Hawaii's Crusaders enjoy an 'old-school' practice


POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hawaii's fifth-year seniors hope the end of their careers matches the start.





Idaho (2-9, 1-6 WAC) at Hawaii (5-5, 4-3)

        When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday


TV: Oceanic PPV Ch. 255


Radio: KKEA 1420-AM.



Several of the Warriors' leaders this season were true freshmen in 2004, when UH finished with a three-game sprint to a bowl berth.

Five years later, they find themselves in a similar position.

“;It was just like this, our backs against the wall, we had to win out,”; safety Keao Monteilh recalled. “;Hopefully it works out the same way.”;

As it was back then, the Warriors' home stretch begins with Idaho, which visits Aloha Stadium in its season finale on Saturday.

This year's Hawaii team has a bit more wiggle room than the 2004 Warriors, who needed to beat Idaho, Northwestern and Michigan State to reach the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, where they closed with a win over UAB.

The current Warriors (5-5, 4-3 Western Athletic Conference) must win two out of their last three to earn the program's third straight bowl berth and the sixth in the last seven years.

“;I think it tests what kind of character we have on the team,”; said defensive tackle Keala Watson, who was granted a medical hardship after playing the first two games in 2004.

Monteilh played on special teams and saw time at safety in his first season out of Saint Louis in '04. He recalled defeating Idaho to start the run and rallying from a 21-0 deficit against Michigan State before pulling out a 41-38 win to clinch the bowl berth.

This week, UH has been installed as a 23-point favorite over the Vandals (2-9, 1-6), who arrive in town tomorrow with designs of putting a snag into the Warriors' postseason plans.

“;Guys with nothing to lose and they want to keep us out of the bowl game, those are tough games,”; Monteilh said.

For the similarities in the scenarios, there are a few notable differences.

The 2004 team began its run coming off a 70-14 loss at Fresno State. This year's squad enters the final three games buoyed by a rousing win at New Mexico State two weeks ago.

Also, where a senior-laden offense led by Tim Chang and Chad Owens powered the '04 team, the veteran presence is on defense this time around.

“;There were a lot of leaders on that team,”; Watson said. “;This year because of the leadership we have I think we've been able to cope with the changes. I think it's made a difference in a lot of wins, especially the road wins. We're going to need to see a lot more of that.”;


Running backs hurting

Kealoha Pilares spent most of yesterday's practice at running back with Daniel Libre and Leon Wright-Jackson sitting out with injuries.

Pilares started four games at running back, but primarily played slotback against New Mexico State two weeks ago.

“;The main thing is that he touches the ball,”; offensive coordinator Ron Lee said of Pilares, who leads the Warriors with six touchdowns. “;He'll just have to play more running back. He's still going to play slot, we'll move him around.”;

The coaches weren't sure of Libre's status for Saturday's game. Wright-Jackson hasn't practiced this week as he continues to deal with a foot injury.

Along with Pilares, David Farmer and Jayson Rego got more work at running back yesterday.

Safety Erik Robinson also sat out after hurting his hamstring on Tuesday, but could be ready for Saturday's game. Monteilh worked at strong safety with the first unit.


Satele learning

An inside linebacker so far this season, Brashton Satele is looking to contribute on the outside as well.

“;We're just trying to get our best players on the field,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;It gives him two more spots he can play.”;

Satele started four games at inside linebacker this season, but Solomon Elimimian has moved back into the middle over the last four games, racking up 35 tackles in that span.

“;It'll be awfully tough to move Sol from the inside,”; defensive coordinator Cal Lee said. “;I think Brashton's good enough to pick it up.”;

Satele is the first backup behind Elimimian and has been working at the outside spot where R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane has started three of the last four games.


Ford Island closed

Ford Island will not be available as an alternate parking site for Saturday's game. Alternate parking will be open at Leeward Community College, Kam Drive-In and Radford High School.

Aloha Stadium's lower Halawa lot opens at 1:30 p.m. All other lots open at 2:30.